Transgender woman Rhianna Gralike, 56, has been wrongfully dismissed from her job as treasurer of a Catholic parish in Flevoland for nothing else than being a transgender woman. A few months ago she was called into the pastor’s office and was told that “being transgender goes against the Church”, a ‘message’ he was asked to pass on from the archbishop. Gralike plans to fight her dismissal even if she has to go to Rome to do so, which I hope is not necessary, considering there are laws in the Netherlands that supersedes any religion-based gut-feeling of an excuse to fire someone for their gender.
The Parish council is on Gralike’s side, saying the dismissal doesn’t match changes in society (an odd way of putting it), and her lawyer says the Church has no grounds to fire her whatsoever. The archbishop refuses to discuss the matter with Gralike, and so we’ll keep you posted.
(Link: www.welingelichtekringen.nl, Photo by Johan Wieland, some rights reserved)
Tags: Catholic church, church, transgender
The recent history of religion in the Netherlands is one of continuous secularisation. One interesting phenomenon of that process is ietsism (literally ‘somethingism’), the belief that something must be lurking behind reality, we just don’t know what it is.
If that sounds vague, it’s probably because it is. The category ietsism did in fact not exist until 1996, the year in which it was invented by The Netherlands Institute for Social Research who needed a label for a phenomenon that they and others had noticed, the phenomenon that people who aren’t affiliated with any specific religion aren’t necessarily atheists.
Poet Marjolein de Vos said according to Trouw at a symposium about ietsism in 2006: “Maybe there is a mystery that supports our reality. Ietsism is, I believe, another word for ‘searching’.”
Theology professor Gijs Dingemans said about ietsists that they “generally have no great philosophical interest. They would just like to know if somebody is running the show, if somebody will fix things once we’ve messed them up or at least has some kind of control over our chaotic world.”
History professor Christiane Berkvens-Stevelinck has a more positive view of ietsists, who according to her may be “people who are averse to dogma and who have rediscovered the source of an uninhibited philosophical and theological curiosity, namely a sense of wonder for the unknowable, the unseen, the Mystery.”
Interestingly the English language Wikipedia entry about ietsism is called (drum roll) … ietsism. Perhaps Dutch researchers needed the label the most.
In 1998 17% of the Dutch people self-identified as atheists according to the International Social Survey Project, 12% as agnostic and 18% believed in an undefined ‘higher power’.
The chart below shows the development of religious affiliation in the Netherlands. I created this chart based on numbers from Statistics Netherlands. Note that the two main protestant churches merged in 2004, but Statistics Netherlands still counts them separately. The Islamic church is not counted separately, but about 5% of Dutch citizens are muslim. Agnosticism, atheism and ietsism are presumably folded largely into ‘unaffiliated’. And last, one of the great unresolved mysteries in life according to me personally is the chart tool in LibreOffice, which is why the left third of the chart spans more than hundred years whereas the right two-thirds only accounts for forty years.
Tags: agnosticism, atheism, church, ietsism
Put aside what the media is saying, forget what people think, good or bad, about the group of mainly Somalian rejected asylum seekers who cannot go back to their country, and ignore Sinterklaas, your gift giving urges, your ‘aah how sad, those cold asylum seekers’ and let me tell you what it’s like. This national drama is playing out 5 minutes from my warm office, so I gathered some food and beauty products for the women (more fearful of going out than the men) and took a walk.
There’s some snow falling from the sky on a dark and dreary Amsterdam day in December. A neighbourhood church abandoned for a long time is currently housing a group of about 30 asylum seekers who have exhausted their right to appeal. The church is just a cement block and it’s cold. There are tents being set up inside for the men and the women have separate quarters with beds. There are no children. The mood is neutral and grey, much like the inside of the church. Some Dutch women are serving hot soup, there’s a café bouncer at the door of the church to make sure the ‘wrong people’ don’t come in. There’s a Dutch girl bundled up in a chair next to him who I suspect is doing the Twittering. I run into an acquaintance bringing food.
I had a few laughs with one of the men heading out to the supermarket with a young Dutch woman and said he should tell her what he wants for dinner so they could get more rice and less macaroni. I wished him good luck and thought about coming by again, hopefully with more useful supplies.
Follow what’s going on in De Vluchtkerk on Twitter as well, especially to find out what they need.
(Link: De Vluchtkerk)
Tags: asylum seekers, church, Somalia
Well, it had to happen. Somebody had to take the famous stackable concrete blocks that are often used to create temporary barriers and paint them in the famous Lego colours.
That somebody was artist Filip Jonke who started building this temporary ‘church’ on the Grenswerk festival terrain in the centre of Enschede. The building is still being erected and you can follow that process at Jonker’s website.
The building will measure 25 by 10 metres with a 20 metre steeple and will serve as a pavilion for the festival.
(Link: Trendbeheer, Photo: Filip Jonker)
Tags: church, Enschede, Lego
Way back in August and December 2007, we posted about a Tilburg pastor who rang his church bells way too early and who got fined for doing so.
And since I love a good trinity, the city council has now ruled that the bells can only be rung after 7:30 am.
Priest Harm Schilder claimed the right to call the faithful to prayer as part of religious freedom. OK, but city council thinks the neighbours have a right to be woken up with their own alarm clocks at a time of their choice.
(Link: dutchnews.nl, Photo: bells, Valkenburg, Limburg)
Tags: bells, church, Tilburg
Pastor Harm Schilder of the Heilige Margarita Maria church parish in Tilburg was fined 5,000 big ones (euro) today and already another 5,000 big ones last Friday because his bell rings too loud. Too loud means 80 decibels instead of 70 decibels, which in laymen’s terms is the difference between a car and a noisy factory. Nevertheless, when the bell hits you very early at 7:15 am, I can imagine it’s loud.
The pastor was told by his boss the bishop not to ring the bell until they get the volume fixed. Stay tuned until next Friday.
(Link: Omroep Brabant)
Tags: Catholicism, church, Tilburg